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Iranians Chant 'Death to Dictator' In Biggest Unrest Since Crushing Of Protests In 2009; NYT: FBI Probe Possibly Triggered By trump Campaign Aide. Cape Town Stadium, An Impressive Venue For Rugby. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired December 31, 2017 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[04:00:04] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Deadly unrest in Iran, rare anti-government protests flare up across the country. Also, stunning new revelations about what may have triggered the FBI's Russia investigation. Also, Germany get set to ring in 2018, we look at the new safety precautions that are in place.
Live from CNN World headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell, the CNN NEWSROOM starts, right now.
Around the world, good day to you. We begin in Iran, protests taking place across that nation and a deputy governor now confirms two people have been killed. It happened as anti-government protests were going on in Western Iran on Saturday, video posted online of these demonstrations appears to show protesters carrying several injured people there.
As we show you more of these images from the apparent scene, please bear this in mind, you may find some of these images disturbing. Here's more.
This video that was twitted by a human rights organization, you can clearly hear the gun shots there in the background. The deputy governor, however, insists no bullets were fired by official security forces. He blames foreign intelligence services and others for the clashes there.
Saturday was the third straight day of protest against the Iranian government. A lot of these protests at Iran had been posted on social media. There are more to show you but important to note here, CNN cannot independently verify their authenticity. Let's take a look at these videos.
Right, this video, protesters appear to be tearing down a poster of Iran's supreme leader. Now, dissent against Ayatollah Khomeini is highly unusual, it's something that the government takes quite seriously but seems to be happening there. Here's another video. In this case, protesters shouting death to Khomeini while marching in that nation's capital of Tehran. They're also shouting, referendum, referendum, this is the demand of the people.
Also, take a look at this. This image that you see, a woman in a red scarf asking a police, why did you do this?
Iran hasn't quite seen protests like this since 2009 during what was known as the Green Movement, the demonstration started Thursday in the Northeastern City of Mashhad, then quickly spread to the capital city of Tehran and several other cities that you see here on this map. One of those cities is Iraq. A government official says 80 people now have been detained.
Iran's interior minister says the government will confront anyone who "uses virtual space" that leads to disorder, breaks the law and spread the violence. Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen has covered Iran extensively, has traveled into that nation numerous times joins us live from Moscow this hour. Fred, thank you for being with us.
Let's talk about this, what we've seen so far, people chanting about reform against the government and even against the supreme leader. These are not typical scenes, things that you'd see --
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
HOWELL: -- on the streets of that nation. What do you make of it?
PLEITGEN: No, I -- yes, absolutely not, George. And I think there's two things that are remarkable, especially when people compared the protest that we're seeing in Iran now to what was called the Green Revolution in 2009.
Certainly, if you take each of these protests by themselves, they're all much smaller than the protest that happened in 2009. But I think one remarkable thing is that they're happening in many places around the country, not just in larger towns but also in smaller towns and villages as well, which seems to indicate also that a lot of the rural population, which is usually quite conservative is also part of this and if there is widespread discontent there as well.
The other big thing that is very interesting about all this is one thing that you mentioned, is that it's not one political group against the other. It's not the reformers versus the hardliners, it's not the conservative versus the folks around President Rouhani, it seems as though the protesters are indicating that they're fed up with both groups. As you've noted, they've torn down pictures of Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, which is something that is extremely uncommon in Iran. But they've also chanted against the president, against Hassan Rouhani. So it seems as though these are folks that are not happy with the entire system as it's being run.
And it goes to the -- some of the core of what's going on in Iran. If we look at what have been happening since Wednesday, these protests started out around economic discontent among large parts of the population.
[04:05:05] And a lot of that, obviously, has to do with rising prices with subsidies being slashed by the Rouhani government. But it's also something that's been lingering for an extended period of time, where you do have a population that is extremely young, extremely well educated but really lacks the chances to try and move ahead in their lives and that's not only about money. It's also trying to fulfill their life's goals, which is a lot of -- what have a lot of Iranians who -- especially those who are well educated have been telling me as, well, they look -- even if you get a job here, it's almost impossible to work in any sort of line or profession that has anything to do with the outside world. Iran is still cut off financially, essentially from the international
community. You still cannot make international electronic payments, investment is also a very slow to trickle in.
So there has been widespread discontent. And then you mix that also with some things that the ruling class has done that has also made people very angry. You've had, for instance, the sons of Mullahs who were driving around in Porsches in the middle of Tehran. Obviously, people who are becoming poorer and poorer when they see things like that, a ruling upper class that is continuously getting richer and they themselves not having the opportunities that they want, that certainly is something that's been building up for an extended period of time and it seems as though at least for some people, they are now voicing that anger on the streets.
Although we do have to keep in mind, these protests, even though they're happening in many places, are still quite small. And the pro- government protests that were going on or the pro, if you will, establishing protests that happened yesterday were much larger. Bur that, of course, also happens against the backdrop with those pro- government protests were sanctioned by the ruling class whereas these are obviously deemed illegal by those who are in power in Iran, George.
HOWELL: Fred, again, standby. I want to remind our viewers the images that we're seeing, these are images from social media. CNN cannot verify the authenticity of these social media reports. But again, many of these reports coming in showing (ph) the protests throughout the streets of various different cities.
Fred Pleitgen giving us some context and perspective. Again, Fred has traveled into the nation extensively, covered it as well extensively. Thank you for the reporting.
Now, since Friday, the U.S. President Donald Trump has twitted three different times about the protests at Iran. Here is one of the most recent tweets from Saturday. It reads, "Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice, the world is watching", says the U.S. president.
Also, the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, chiming in on Twitter saying, "POTUS", referring to the president of the United States, "POTUS and I stand with peaceful protesters in Iran who are speaking out for freedom and we condemn the arrest of innocence. The time has come for the regime in Tehran to end terrorist activities, corruption and their disregard for human rights."
Maziar Bahari is the editor of IranWire.com, also was a former political prisoner in Iran, brings us a unique perspective this hour. Thank you so much for joining us, being on the show to talk about this.
Let's first talk about your background to set up the context, covering the Iranian election protest of 2009 for Newsweek. You were arrested in Tehran and forced to confess to covering illegal demonstrations and helping to promote sedition, as a result, you served several months in Evin prison before being released on bail.
Given what you experienced during those moments like this that we're seeing, how rare is it for people to speak so openly, so freely about their frustrations?
MAZIAR BAHARI, EDITOR, IRANWIRE: It is really rare but I think it is not surprising because people have been fed up with corruption in Iran, people had the revolution in 1979 -- February 1979. And, they wanted more egalitarian country. They wanted a more democratic country. But, after almost 40 years, they see clerical regime that is corrupt, that is un-Islamic in the minds of many people and dictatorial and a country that -- and a regime that has deprived people of their citizen rights.
HOWELL: Compare these protests to what we saw in the Green Movement of 2009. Fred Pleitgen just touched on this a moment ago. At the moment, what we're seeing right now, these protests seemed to be about a wide variety of issues that people have.
BAHARI: Yes. In 2009, it was a very -- it was -- the protest had two leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi who were reformists. So their protesters who were mostly in Tehran and larger cities, they were supporting reformist faction of the government. These protests are largely spontaneous. They are not as large as the protest in 2009, but they are more widespread.
[04:10:01] And they are not against one faction or the other faction of this -- of the Islamic republic. They are against the clerical regime. That's why people chant death to the dictator, death to Khomeini and they bring down posters of Khomeini for the first time. We never saw something like that in 2009. This was for the first time yesterday when they brought posters of Khomeini down.
HOWELL: So as you point out, the numbers, the comparison of the crowds, the numbers aren't quite there, but again, what they're doing, what they're seeing, certainly noteworthy compared to the Green Movement.
Want to talk about this, so top Iranian official is issuing a very clear warning, saying that the government will confront any use of virtual space that leads to disorder and "breaking of law". The interior minister also saying that the virtual space is being used as a tool to spread violence. So, we're starting to hear the government talk about the crackdown given your experience.
Are you concerned about --
BAHARI: No one knows --
HOWELL: -- what the crackdown look -- might look like? BAHARI: No one knows exactly how the protests started, the protest
started on Thursday in the city of Mashhad, in northeast Iran, for -- you know, against economic policies of the government. And then, it became widespread. So the government is as surprised as we are and the government, whether they are reformist or the conservatives, do not know what to do. Most probably they will resort to what they know best, which is crackdown, which is imprisonment of protesters and shutting down newspapers, already we know that the internet bandwidth is narrowed. Sometimes they cut off the mobile internet.
So, it will be -- it is really unclear that -- what the government will do. But, I think some people in the government and as we see from different members of the parliament's comments, they know that they have to do something. They know that the people are not happy with the Islamic republic government. And as such, they have to do something drastic, otherwise there will be a kind of revolt like in 1979.
HOWELL: And again, just to remind our viewers, these images we're seeing from social media, CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the videos, but again, these videos show protests throughout that nation.
I want to ask one other question. The U.S. president has tweeted on this, he's been very clear about his dislike for the Iranian government. But given the context and background of this particular U.S. president on the world stage, are his comments, do you believe, welcome among protesters or could these comments in fact work against him?
BAHARI: Well, listen, whether we like Donald Trump or not, he is the president of the United States. And as the president of the United States, Iranian people like to hear him supporting their movement. Iranian people, not only like to hear president of the United States supporting them, they like other members of the Congress, senators, and leaders of other government to support their movements as well. They do not want to be felt left alone like in 2009 when President Obama was relatively quiet about the protest and did not support them.
Some people may say that the president should be quiet because the protesters can be pictured as the agents of the United States. But, it's wrong because whether the president of the United States is quiet or not, the Iranian government is calling the protesters the agents of zynism, imperialism, capitalism, marquis (ph), whatever. So, I think it was the right thing to do for President Trump to tweet in support of Iranian people. I think he should -- in this case, he should tweet more and he should talk more forcefully about the demonstrations and protests of the Iranian people.
Iranian people like to hear the world supporting them. But, also I don't think that it should be limited towards. I think the best thing that the U.S. government and other governments can do is to provide some sort of satellite internet or some sort of internet connection when -- that Iranians can use to communicate with each other and with the rest of the world, because at these times, when people come to the street, the government of Iran shuts down mobile internet, narrows the bandwidth and people cannot communicate even with each other. So the best thing that the Iran -- the American government and other governments can do is to establish some sorts of satellite, internet or some sort of other kinds of mobile connections that Iranian people can use to communicate with each other.
[04:15:11] HOWELL: Maziar Bahari, the editor of IranWire.com and also a journalist, quite frankly, who was jailed for doing his job back in 2009 in Iran. We appreciate you for being with us to give perspective on this. Thank you.
BAHARI: Thank you.
HOWELL: This is CNN NEWSROOM. We're right back after the break.
HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell. The Trump White House is not commenting on "New York Times" report that may pinpoint why the FBI started investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.
The FBI opened its investigation due to multiple factors, this according to the "Times", one of them may have been learning that the campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, the man you see here, knew about stolen e-mails damaging to Hillary Clinton months before that information became public.
CNN's Sara Murray explains.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: On an otherwise sleepy day on the president's vacation in Mar-a-Lago, the White House was left grappling with yet another "New York Times" bombshell. This one centered around George Papadopoulos who was a foreign policy aide to President Trump back when he was candidate Trump during his campaign and revelations that he told people he was aware that Moscow had damaging e-mails about Hillary Clinton and may have helped attract law enforcement's attention to this question of whether there was any collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russians in efforts to meddle in the election.
Now, before this report came out, the White House went out of their way to downplay Papadopoulos' role during the campaign.
Here's what Sarah Sanders had to say about it a couple of months ago.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was extremely limited, it was a volunteer position, and again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.
MURRAY: Now, the White House took a cautious role in its response to this bombshell report over the weekend. Ty Cobb, who's the president's counsel within the White House, put out a statement that said, "Out of respect for the special counsel and his process, we are not commenting on matters such as this. We are continuing to fully cooperate with the special counsel in order to help complete their inquiry expeditiously."
[04:20:08] But if you dig into this "New York Times" report, there are a couple components that could be troubling for the Trump White House, including the notion that George Papadopoulos actually helped weigh in on some of then-candidate Trump's foreign policy speeches, as well as helping to facilitate a meeting just two months before the election between then-candidate Trump and the Egyptian president, both things that seemed well outside the spectrum of a low-level volunteer.
Sara Murray, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
HOWELL: Amy Greene is a researcher in the American Political Science and professor at Sciences Po based in Paris. She is the author of "America After Obama" and joins us live this hour. Thank you so much for being with us.
So we just heard Sara Murray's report a moment ago. Let's talk about this, Mr. Papadopoulos described as very low-level limited volunteer position according to the White House press secretary, even described as a coffee boy by some surrogates. But given what we're seeing in this "New York Times" report, this seems quite to the contrary.
AMY GREENE, PROFESSOR, SCIENCES PO: Right, the reporter in the segment just prior mentioned effectively a series of incidents setting up the meeting with the Egyptian leader. For example, there was another revelation in the article which is that, obviously, Michael Flynn saw -- pushed for a surrogate role for Papadopoulos during the campaign and that ended up being a major gap.
So there are a number of different pieces of information and number of components coming forth in this investigative piece that show that Papadopoulos wasn't the coffee boy or wasn't just a simple volunteer picked off the street, but was somebody who, you know, offered his services to the campaign, helped edit a foreign policy speech with regards to Russia and helped to share that information and flag it with the Russians among other things. So it's clear that, you know, the Trump campaign -- or the Trump, sorry, the Trump administration's continuing call that this was just a simple low-level emissary is simply coming out to be, perhaps, more nuance than that and perhaps not true.
HOWELL: Amy, let's talk more about the reporting. Does it give any indication whatsoever about how extensive this investigation might be?
GREENE: Well, what we see is that, you know, Papadopoulos flipped, you know, is cooperating with the Mueller investigation. The question was, how much did Mueller have on him at that point. What we see now is that the scope of the investigation is perhaps a bit larger than we might have thought at the beginning. When we see that Papadopoulos had information as to the fact that Russia had potentially incriminating or unfortunate e-mails about Hillary Clinton months before even the Democratic National Committee knew months before the hacking started, we see that Papadopoulos was purview to important information. When we see that -- reread that, Papadopoulos was in touch with
intermediaries from the foreign ministry -- Foreign Affairs Ministry of Russia and those contacts were in touch with what are considered to be some of the elder statement in Russian foreign affairs. We know that Papadopoulos isn't just this sort of ground level operative.
And so, essentially what the investigative piece shows us is that throughout a period of time, Papadopoulos systematically pursued contacts with the Russians, kept his superior (INAUDIBLE) a price of what he was doing even if, as Jeff Sessions once said, you know, he pushed back against Papadopoulos as, you know, efforts to bring the campaign closer to the Russians because he found Papadopoulos to be too underqualified. But nonetheless, he persisted in his attempt to bring the campaign closer to the Russians, and again, keeping a senior leadership inform than, you know, receiving a surrogate responsibility being able to mark up some of Trump's foreign policy speeches.
So, what we see is that there was a systematic effort on the part of Papadopoulos to pursue these contacts. We don't know why, we don't know to what extent senior leadership was fully aware of it, especially about the e-mails but what we do know is that Papadopoulos made this effort over a long period of months, and including into the early days of the Trump administration.
HOWELL: The report from the "New York Times" is certainly insightful, interesting and we'll certainly see where that goes with regards to this investigation.
Amy Greene, again, researcher in American Political Science and professor at Sciences Po based in Paris. Want to get that right, my colleague, Sito Vanye (ph) would say, hey, get it right. Thank you so much for your time.
GREENE: Thank you so much. Thank you very much, George.
HOWELL: The New Year will start arriving around the world very soon and many places, it will be treacherously cold. Our meteorologist Derek Van Dam has more.
DERAK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We are certainly saying goodbye to 2017 on a cold note. Check this out, we have over 60 million people across the eastern two-thirds of the United States, under a windshield warning, watch or advisories, and that calls for windshield values between negative 25 and negative 45 degrees Fahrenheit, that is not a typo, that is exactly how cold we expect it to be across these highlighted locations. And this does include many major metropolitan areas along the East Coast including New York City which, by the way, this coincides with the big ball drop happening and, of course we know that the weather will be frigid.
[04:25:12] Fortunately, no snow to really speak of until the second half of next week, not in time for the New Year's eve ball drop, unfortunately. Another reinforcing shot of frigid air, once again, as we head into the second half of next week, the first week of 2018.
So here is your New Year's Eve forecast for some of the major cities. We will stay dry tonight, but the big story is, how cold it will be at times of around midnight, we do expect temperature for about eight to 10 degrees Celsius below zero, colder yet, Upstate, New York and into Burlington, Vermont.
Now, the United States is not the only location experiencing cold winter weather, look at this man, installing snow tires on his vehicle as he prepares to drive across the snowy Southern Alps in France. Now, there's a called for (ph) that's actually going to sweep east toward across the western portions of Europe, that's going to cooler temperatures and also brings some unsettled weather along with it. Look at the chances of rainfall, just west of London across Wales and into western sections of France and higher elevations, snowfall. Great news for the ski resorts.
London, your midnight forecast for this New Year is seven degrees with mostly clear skies. We do have a bit of cloud overhead for Berlin, 11 if you're at the Brandenburg Gate welcoming in the New Year. Perhaps you're in Paris, looking at the Eiffel Tower light up, your temperature will be about eight degrees. Take note, though, a blustery night ahead of you, west and southwest winds of 26 kilometers per hour. That's all we have for now. Have a happy new year.
HOWELL: A cold start to the New Year, thank you for being with us for NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell. Your world headlines right after the break.
[04:30:12] HOWELL: Live from CNN World headquarters in Atlanta, I'm George Howell. This is CNN news now. An Iranian government official confirms two people were killed during anti-government protest taking place in western Iran on Saturday. A source told CNN five people were shot after demonstrators set a local governor's office on fire. But, the same government official denies that anyone was shot by security forces. He blames foreign intelligence services and others for clashes there.
The "New York Times" report says that the former Trump campaign aide, I should say, may have been a catalyst behind the FBI's Russia probe. This according to the report, the FBI learned that George Papadopoulos had told others about stolen e-mails damaging to Hillary Clinton long before that information became public.
Cities around the world getting ready for New Year's Eve celebrations. In Germany, the security is in place as in many cities there including a new safe zone near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, that's amid concerns of potential sexual harassment. Hundreds of women were sexually molested two years ago at celebrations in Colon.
That's your CNN news now. CNN "WORLD RUGBY" is up next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rugby is a huge part of our culture, it's part of our daily life, our weekends are based around rugby, our social life is based around rugby, our friends come and watch rugby. And, yes, we had the support of Boca (ph). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Few nations can equal South Africa's passion for
rugby. But the sport has not been kind to the country in recent months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: France.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Losing the bid to host the 2023 World Cup broke South African hearts. And the once mighty Springboks have slumped to a series of depressing defeat.
But South Africans still have reasons to be cheerful, they have the reigning champions of event (ph) Sevens World Series and the Cape Town Sevens is a send-out (ph) success packed with passion advance (ph).
Hello, welcome to CNN WORLD RUGBY.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The Cape Town Stadium makes an impressive venue for the Rugby Sevens World Series. It's the second stop in the globetrotting series following the traditional opening event in the desert of Dubai. And we'll round up the action from both events later in the show. But we'll start with another reason to be cheerful here in South Africa, if you're looking for hope, here's a rugby story to warm the heart.
You may not realize that at first glance, that this could well be the future of South African rugby. It's hardly state of the art, but this makeshift gym in Cape Town's Khayelitsha Township is powering a passion for rugby, which is changing both lives and perceptions for the young players of Connect Academy.
Traveling from the township to the training ground could take hours. It involves (ph) a journey by bus and on foot with players and coaches carrying their own equipment. Existing through charitable donations, the Connect Academy aims to create a level playing field for players who may have encountered a bumpy road en route to rugby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Span out in (ph) tools, sitting hours (ph) in deep, just hold it there for me for 30 seconds, get your feet nice and wide, too. Andy (ph), put your feet nice, soften your knees.
Kids from underprivileged backgrounds weren't getting an opportunity to get access to the right tools and resources that privileged kids are getting. And rugby is opening up all these other opportunities for them. But, it's rugby or gangster is a more, you know, idleness.
So those are the three things, communication, working off the ball, looking for space. OK. Cool. You're ready, guys?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, coach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, coach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let's go. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we -- not just players and teammates.
We're actually kind of a family because we help each other in any way we can.
[04:35:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Much better, much better. Here we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it is a good team. They support you, they give you opportunities that you didn't get in the other team. They're showing (ph) support the intellect, yes, my parents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of the coach? What do you think of him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, coach is my -- I love him so much, he's like my father because everything I say to him, he understands it. And if I have like nothing, and if I ask him, he's going to like do like everything for me. It's like, now, I appreciate what he's doing for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very, very tough environment that a lot of these kids come from. So, we've had to take care of a lot of things that you wouldn't think of initially. So, we bought a club house in Khayelitsha, the kids can get go and eat there and hang out there on the weekends or after school.
So, I think for parents, that's what matters. That's really important to them that the kids are taken care of in those vulnerable hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's actually changed my life because where I live, there's like too many people, like smokes and then being gang sizing (ph) me like those stuffs. So now, I live in the club house, I'm out of my township area where I used to live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see, that's a waste (ph) point, don't show off.
Kids aren't becoming gangsters because, you know, they want to sell drugs or whatever, they're doing it because they want a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership. So that was a big starting point for us. And, sport is something that can kind of -- you can create your own gang.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The temporary training ground overlooks the Cape Town Stadium, where the Blitzboks will defend their Sevens World Series. But Murray Ingram and his coaching colleagues are hoping to find permanent facilities in which to develop players, coaches, referees and phisios for a future in the game.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the kids especially this year, we've had a big group of kids starting to get virtuous (ph) at really, really good schools and all this player who's 19 -- she's a girl and she's got into university to study sports management. And that's a huge win for us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In terms of (ph) playing rugby, I've got in in school because they saw something in me, I guess. So, they're like, OK, you can play and then study because education has to be willing (ph) and (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saysay's (ph) success on and off the pitch only became possible after she overcame her family's fears about her taking part in the sport.
SAYSAY: They're like no way, I was going to break my bones, I was going to get to the hospital, I was going to -- they just didn't like the idea of playing -- me playing rugby because they say it was just too dangerous. It was for boys and I couldn't play.
Now, they have confidence in me because I've played really well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well done, Nuenue (ph). Kabaya (ph), yes, yes, yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels like this is your other family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has to be. You know, this goes so beyond rugby and these kids become your kids, and especially when you're working with a small group of kids and realize their vulnerabilities and just their personalities, you can't not get involved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to be a professional player. But I know it's hard to -- that's why I'm willing to do the hurdle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Swing hard, up, swing up.
The kids make me proud. You know, when I watch them and especially this year or last year (ph), for the kids to become national champions in their respective age groups, they played in under 13 and under 15 tournaments and they won the tournament. And that makes me proud because they're kids that nobody would have expected to come from and they are anomalies in that world. That's the kind of the stuff that I like to sit back about and reflect on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you go from here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not from here, I go all the way to Springboks team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like that. Aim big, aim high.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wish you all the luck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. And good night also.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cape Town Sevens sold out just a couple of hours but we've managed to get a hold of tickets to give to some of the Connect Academy players or find out how they enjoyed their day later in the show.
Before that, we'll head to Dubai for the opening round of the Sevens season.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we'll be swapping the money boots for dress suits here on the red carpet at the World Rugby Awards.
[04:41:33] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome back to CNN WORLD RUGBY. Before we head to Dubai for the opening salvos of the Sevens World Series, we're going to take a moment to celebrate the successes of last season at the star-studded World Rugby Awards here in Monaco.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Live takes on a defeat by itself
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it bangs around to toys with them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And New Zealand is garnering a lot quicker as well. A lot of girls are coming to Worlds Rugby rather than Nick Bowe in soccer which is cool. And it brings us a lot more young talent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy name Ferry, bunch foot on the gas. Kicks off the toe. It is absolutely perfect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being athlete of the year for World of Sevens would never dream of mine. But being the best soccer player was always a dream of mine. It just shows the sacrifices and dedications you put into your work will pay off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The guy in the short side and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just grown up with thought boys. So we had some great big caps. Games of furry and cricket and all things we learn a lot of stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How was it for you after that World Cup when coming home? How was your life really changed since that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think just more people recognizing Women's Rugby place in New Zealand. You know, you get more people coming out and say, oh, we watch your game and it was an awesome final, congratulations, you know, we never had that before. So I think just Women's Rugby is now in the mind people around New Zealand and also around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The team just won the team of the year as well. I mean, it's a double (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, exactly. So, like I said, the team has just been an absolutely high this year and I think the team of the year in this award just kind a tops it off, you know. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just perfect. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somalia, Australia, Scotland, Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A number of those award winners return to more familiar surroundings this month as the Sevens World Series assembled its skippers for the season opener in Dubai.
Anyone approaching the event has a unique of view of the Sevens Stadium rising like an oasis from the desert.
It draws not only rugby fans from around the world but also teams who take part in an invitational tournament played across a group of pitchers alongside the main stadium.
[04:45:00] It's one of the social highlights of the year in the UAE and fans go to extraordinary lengths with costumes ranging from the strange to well the even stranger.
New Zealand's women are defending their series title and that relaxed at their pre-tournament training session. But with the come along games on the Sevens World Cup started into the season, they're setting their sights high.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our goal this season is to take every titles. We want to win the com games. We want win the World Series and we also want to win a World Cup at the end of the year and I think we'll be very disappointed if we don't win all three.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When world's gateway to deed, the black firms to defeat by the U.S. The France is one of the biggest top sets in recent seasons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA, and this, this could be the biggest show of the weekend so far.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is set up the final between the United States and Australia. But the Aussies restored Southern Hemisphere's supremacy and more cleaned out to be a one sided effect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got a very (INAUDIBLE) back in Sydney and household try it really hard and to get that result it's not. She's (INAUDIBLE) isn't safer during the hot yards. This is crazy and game that result to the whole score of home as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Aussies will hope to continue their momentum into the New Year when they'll have home advantage in the next tournament in Sydney. The amateurs and juniors continue to pursue their own tournaments exhibiting similar skills to those seen by their professional counterparts. And met with the passion equal to that surrounding the contest in the main area. South Africa's member began last season with the victory in Dubai which set up their title clinching campaign and boasted by the return from super rugby of key player Seabelo Senatla. The edged to tight game against Fiji and then New Zealand, although England took a place against the Bolts in the finals. And it was South Africa which retain their title in a typically fast-paced effect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a really special bunch of guys and they're rooting for the success they achieve on the field but actually proud of them the way they conduct themselves off the field and then something that weighing a lot, maybe in their performance and success on the field.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The DHL impact player title in Dubai was awarded to Russia's Elena Mikolkasova (ph). The 22 tackles, 9 breaks, 9 offloads and 21 carries produced a total of 61 points. In the men's tournament, the spoils were shared by South Africa's Seabelo Senatla and Samoa's Alamanda Motuga with 50 points of piece. With memories of Dubai popped out for another year, attention turns to South Africa for the next leg of the 10 city tour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that was a perfect stop to the Blitzboks defense of their World Series title as they head into their home tournaments here in Cape Town.
[04:50:32] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For more than a century, South Africa's Springboks have carried the hopes of the nation in one of the sport's most iconic moments, President Nelson Mandela wearing a Springbok shirt presented the weatherless trophy to captain Francois Pienaar as they won the World Cup on home soil in 1995. But, the 15 aside team has been under pressure following a mark deep in full while the seven squad known as the Blitzboks gone from strength to strength.
This is the man responsible for much of all that positive about South African rugby at the moment. Neil Powell sevens team known as the Blitzpoks made a winning stop to their defense of the Sevens World Series in Dubai last weekend and they're also targeting success in the Commonwealth Games and the Sevens Rugby World Cup this season.
UNIDENTIFID MALE: I think meant to drive us into that World Series and I think something that we work for four years when I came into this system. I think we managed to win once before and I was actually thought of that team as a player and then now as a coach. So it's great to -- fun to get the reward for the hard work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How success is a player who provided authority and authenticity, insight and inspiration to his role as coach? The players know he's been in their boots and knows just what it takes to win a Sevens World Series.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I think our coach is really like, he is pretty, pretty true. You guys can see it right on TV. People said like he normally doesn't show any emotion but like you can see when he's happy with us and we know when he's not happy with us and that's when we don't give enough effort. Say if you didn't do that, then he usually becomes unhappy but otherwise, he's a very good coach. He allows you to express yourself both on and off the field and I think that's a mix of moments that happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coach Neil, he is a phenomenal man and a man with integrity and I think that's all that player can also -- he is coach completely honest within a door that's always open and doesn't matter what people. It's just a silly equation of something back home. He's a father figure in the team and everybody is looking up to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The coach in South Africa's 15 aside team, (INAUDIBLE) under pressure. His side have won just 11 times in 25 tests. And there are growing number of voices suggesting that Powell's coaching abilities could be used to revive the Springboks fortunes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's assisting all more than them, coaching this team. I still get a contract to (INAUDIBLE) players.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How doesn't let such destructions interrupt vibrations for his most immediate challenge winning the next round of the Sevens World Series in front of a home crowd?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's really special for us to play and kept on. I think we -- I may get that opportunity once a year to play in front of the crowd and then, well, I think, the energy and the vibe in that stadium is just unbelievable. And I think after the first sail, I was like this, they can be this energy and that was even better the second year which was last year. Unfortunately, we can go all the way, we lost against England in that final and hopefully we can pull off to win this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So match days upon us at Cape Town Stadium. The fans are arriving in numbers dressed up for the set out events. And the young players we met earlier at Connect Academy are here too. We've got the tickets ready for you.
Back in the Connect Academy Clubhouse in Khayelitsha Township, every twist and turn of the tournaments would be keenly followed by some of the other young players. To the action then, as South Africa were involved in an epic battle with Fiji, which so the visitors taken early commandingly with local hero Senatla, seeing yellow for high tackle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's a hand around there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were nervous moments for the fans both in the grounds and the clubhouse.
[04:55:02] South Africa were desperately hanging on as the Blitzpoks pulled back a vital score just before half time.
What's been your best part of the day?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Blitzbokke would play in -- cool vibe, I can see everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which Blitzbokke player did the best do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes, Seabelo Senatla.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he's on a run, the crowd does goes wild, doesn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and anyone just stand up and shout at him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At home favored Senatla reached this 200 try landmark over the weekend by his pass in an incredible come back which soar a last cast victory of the season.
Sadly for the home crowd, they were defeated in the next round by New Zealand who made their way to the final despite losing their opening pool game to the USA. Their opponents in the final were Argentina who also overcame the pool stage setback against England but grew stronger as the tournament address.
But the All Black Sevens reaching their second final in a week prove two strong and celebrated their 38 to 14 victory with a traditional Hakka (ph). Despite their memorable defeat to South Africa, Fiji's intense workload was best demonstrated by Amenoni Nasilasila who's 23 tackles, 6 breaks, 7 off loads and 20 ball carries won him the DHL Impact Award with 60 points.
The Blitzpokke finished 3rd in their home tournaments and the squad had a message for the young players of Khayelitsha Township and elsewhere who may form the future of South African rugby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't really matter where you come from a highest situation is you can really change situation if you're willing. So I think our biggest plan is to do more, succeed in your dream and then after that, you put that dream into action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is not always perfect at home, but one thing that I can assure them is they don't have to be a victim of all the circumstances. You're a product of your choices. So I want to encourage them to make the right choices. I promise you, sooner than later, you will be the next superstar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sound advice from a nation through for good times and bad remains steadfast and its love affair would be overboard.